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 The Importance of Making Backups 

The importance of making backups cannot be stressed strongly enough.  As a private IT consultant I am often asked to recover lost data from dead computers or failed hard-drives.  Sometimes I am successful and sometimes the data is gone forever.

There are many ways for data to be lost.  Hard-drives are a mechanical devices and therefore will eventually fail.  Laptops can be stolen.  Files can be accidentally deleted.  A computer virus could reformat your system.  A fire or flood could destroy your office.  A disgruntled employee could ‘accidentally’ delete data.  The list of potential data disasters is endless and lost data can lead to great hardships trying to recover or recreate the  information.  How would you or your business cope if all of your records were suddenly lost?  Would you be able to stay in business?

Here is a real life example: One of my engineering clients had a computer that contained over 14 years worth of accumulated AutoCAD drawings and was NOT backed up.  It was a disaster waiting to happen.  The hard-drive began to make terrible noise (it literally sounded like a jackhammer) and the Windows operating system would no longer boot.  The owner feared that 14 years of work would be gone forever.  Luckily for him, I was able to retrieve the data using a sophisticated data recovery application.  This person came very close to losing countless hours of work and the CAD drawings for dozens of his clients.  He was extremely lucky.  A loss of this magnitude could have potentially destroyed his Engineering consulting business.  After the experience he has learned to make backups on a regular basis.  Unfortunately this type of problem occurs quite often and most of us learn this particular lesson the hard way.

My favorite backup strategy involves a combination of different backup methods.  Typically, in a network environment I recommend some sort of tape backup system based on the amount of data to be backed up.   When possible I recommend a full backup every weeknight.  Ideally, I like to use 31 tapes so there is one for each day of the month.  Using this numbering system makes it very easy to locate a file that was deleted 2-3 weeks back.  Some of my clients also like to keep a permanent full backup monthly or yearly as a matter of permanent record.  Quite often, clients will keep the tapes in a fireproof safe or at an offsite location.  In addition to the tape backups I like to use online backups.  A Network Attached Storage device (NAS) is attached to the network just like any other server.  This device typically contains anywhere from a half terabyte and beyond of RAID-5 fault tolerant storage.  If the client has a lot of data, I configure the backup software to do incremental backups every weeknight and I perform a full backup on the weekend.  This method provides a backup to the backup in the event the tape system has an issue.  Likewise the size of the NAS is so great, that we can typically get multiple generations of full backups on one NAS device.  If a file ever needs to be restored, it is pulled from the NAS device rather than the tape.  These methods may seem redundant to some; but that’s the whole idea of a backup!  The goal is to NEVER lose any data.

In conclusion, we can see that backups are vital to every computer system whether it be a home system or a business.  If you think backups are unimportant, think again.  You need to ask yourself the following questions.  If my computers hard-drive died, what information would I lose?  Could I recreate the information easily?  What would it cost me to recover the data?  The data stored on your computer is more important than many people realize!


PC Guide Website, Backups and Disaster Recovery

PC Guide Website, Backup methods, Devices and Media

PC Guide Website, Full, Selective and Incremental Backups






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Last modified: 03/13/19